Education officials: Oklahoma’s budget likely won’t fund new textbooks

OKLAHOMA CITY - Budget cuts over the past several years have negatively impacted numerous state agencies, including the Department of Education.

Education officials tell NewsChannel 4 they expect this coming school year's funding to be "about comparable" to what was projected in the last fiscal year.

Lynn Barnes, the Chief Academic Officer for Oklahoma City Public Schools, said state aid will likely be "somewhat flat." Barnes said school districts will have to come up with the money themselves for certain items, including textbooks. According to the Oklahoma State School Board Association (OSSBA), schools will receive $1,870,666 in state aid funding, a .01 percent increase over where schools began this past school year.

In fact, education officials said funds for new textbooks may have to come directly from schools' general funds and bonds.

Dr. Ann Caine, Director of Education Leadership for OSSBA, said she is not worried about the lack of funding for new textbooks negatively impacting students and teachers.

Instead, she said many educators are turning to the digital world for help with materials.

"That's the world of students now, right?" she said. "When students come to school, they already know how to [begin] using the digital devices they have at home."

Barnes said the last time schools received money for textbooks was during the 2014-2015 school year, adding Oklahoma City Public Schools has also ventured into online resources.

"We've attached some open education resources that are free to everyone online and so really providing some those resources for teachers so they don't necessarily have to have that edition in front of them," she said.

NewsChannel 4 reached out Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister in regards to the matter. She admits lack of textbook funding could pose challenges, but she has faith teachers will persevere.

As for Barnes, she said the schools look forward to continue working with the state.